Nations agree on milestone common rulebook for Paris climate treaty
Nations today struck a deal to breathe life into the landmark 2015 Paris climate treaty after marathon UN talks that failed to match the ambition the world's most vulnerable countries need to avert dangerous global warming. Delegates from nearly 200 states finalized a common rulebook designed to deliver the Paris goals of limiting global temperature rises to well below 2 degrees Celsius. Here's more.
"Putting together the Paris agreement work programme is a big responsibility," said COP24 President Michal Kurtyka as he gavelled through the deal after talks in Poland that ran deep into overtime. "We did our best to leave no one behind," he said.
States already dealing with devastating floods, droughts and extreme weather made worse by climate change said the package agreed in Katowice lacked the bold ambition to cut emissions the world needed. Egyptian ambassador Wael Aboulmagd, chair of the developing nations, G77 + China negotiating bloc, said the rule book saw the "urgent adaptation needs of developing countries relegated to a second-class status."
The executive director of Greenpeace, Jennifer Morgan, said: "We continue to witness an irresponsible divide between the vulnerable island-states and impoverished countries pitted against those who are immorally failing to act fast enough." The final decision text was delayed as negotiators sought guidelines that could ward off the worst threats posed by the heating planet while protecting the economies of rich, poor nations alike.
At their heart, negotiations were about how each nation funds action to mitigate and adapt to climate change, as well as how those actions are reported. French President Emmanuel Macron, who has recently backed down on anti-pollution fuel tax hikes in the face of country-wide "yellow vest" protests, said France must "show the way" as he welcomed the progress made at the talks.
Developing nations had wanted more clarity from richer ones over how the future climate fight will be funded and pushed for so-called "loss and damage" measures. This would see richer countries giving money now to help deal with the effects of climate change.
Another contentious issue was the integrity of carbon markets, looking ahead to the day when the patchwork of distinct exchanges, in China, the Europe Union, parts of the United States, may be joined up in a global system. The Paris Agreement calls for setting up a mechanism to guard against practices, such as double counting emissions savings, that could undermine such a market.
Delegates eventually agreed yesterday to kick the issue down the road until next year. One veteran observer said that Poland's presidency at COP24 had left many countries out of the process and presented at-risk nations with a "take it or leave it" deal.
Most nations wanted the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to form a key part of the future planning. It highlighted the need to slash carbon pollution by nearly half before 2030 in order to hit the 1.5 degrees Celsius target. But the US, Saudi Arabia, Russia, and Kuwait objected, leading to the watered-down wording.
"There's been a shocking lack of response to the 1.5 report," Greenpeace's Morgan said. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who made three trips to Katowice over the course of the talks, said the world's climate fight was just beginning. "From now on my five priorities will be: Ambition, ambition, ambition, ambition, ambition," he said in a message read out by UN climate chief Patricia Espinosa.